Our pick of the best white noise machines for babies, for all budgets
If you’re expecting or have a newborn, you’ve likely heard about white noise machines. They’re the latest trend in infant sleep aids, and mums and dads rave about how effective they are at calming a crying child. They emit a fuzzy, static sound that can help to drown out other ambient noises, making it easier for your little one to catch some Zs.
The best white noise machines can be the difference between a restful night and a difficult one. While it’s possible to find a plethora of white noise playlists on YouTube, there are a number of benefits to buying a standalone device. For one, it’s often much more convenient than leaving your smartphone or laptop playing. Baby-focused white noise machines also tend to be designed as a cuddly companion, which can make them a welcome addition to a crib.
Below, you’ll find our guide to the ins and outs of white noise machines, including information on how to use them safely. This is followed by our choice of the very best models available to buy.
Best white noise machines: At a glance
How to choose the best white noise machine for your baby
What is a white noise machine?
White noise machines emit soothing sounds designed to mimic the noises your little one heard in the womb, from a heartbeat to a droning whoosh. Placed in or near your baby’s crib, these machines aim to make your child feel comfortable and safe. They can also be called pink noise machines or advertised as both white and pink noise machines.
Pink noise consists of all frequencies we can hear, but the energy isn’t equally distributed across them. It’s more intense than white noise and occurs at lower frequencies, which creates a deep sound. Heartbeats, wind and rain are considered pink noises – although are also lumped within the white noise category.
Are white noise machines safe to use?
Much of the discussion around the safety of white noise machines centres on the volume of the sound. Reports suggest that noise levels inside the womb can be as loud as 90dB (about as loud as a lawnmower), however, in 2014, a study from the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) tested 14 white noise machines and found that some produced volumes in excess of 85dB, concluding that this could be damaging if left for several hours at close proximity to a baby’s ear.
In conclusion, the advice from the AAP was that the device should be placed at least 200m (7ft) away from a baby’s crib, and not be set to maximum volume.
Beyond volume, there’s some anecdotal debate about whether babies can become reliant on white noise machines to sleep. The thinking is that little ones come to associate the sound with sleep, which is great when you have access to a white noise machine, but less handy if you don’t or if you want to stop using one.
There’s little conclusive evidence of this, but it may be worth considering when to wean your baby off a white noise machine. Babies develop at different rates, so there’s no fixed time period, although after around 12 months your child should be sleeping easier through the night.
What are the benefits of using a white noise machine?
There are a number of benefits to using a white noise machine. For example, it acts as a cue to tell your child it’s time for sleep. As part of a napping or bedtime routine, your child will soon learn that once the machine is turned on, it’s time to go to bed.
You can, of course, find free white noise videos on YouTube and noise-generating mobile apps. These are handy if you’re away from home, or if the batteries in your white noise machine run out – but you’ll have to leave your phone or tablet in your baby’s room overnight, so a dedicated machine is more convenient. Here’s our guide to the best white noise machines for babies.
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What other considerations are there when choosing a white noise machine?
When it comes to materials, there tend to be two camps for white noise machines. You have devices that look like cuddly toys and you have devices that look like smart speakers.
The former hide a white noise speaker within a huggable form, while the latter are more likely to be propped on a surface outside the baby’s crib. There are benefits for both: cuddly toys can become a favourite of your child, but the smart speaker setup might have easier controls for adults and is much more likely to have main power. It’s also important to note that teddies and soft toys should not be placed inside a crib or attached to the side within a babies reach when they are under one year of age. This can put them at greater risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
How we test white noise machines
To deliver the most honest and accurate reviews, we test every product we recommend. Our pick of the best noise machines were chosen after putting a range of models through a series of tests in a real-life setting. Our tester used each of the white noise machines to settle their six-month-old baby for daytime naps and bedtime. She scored each white noise machine on their volume, range of settings, any clever features and the overall quality of design.
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The best white noise machines to buy in 2023
1. myHummy: The best all-round white noise machine for babies
Price when reviewed: From £60 | Check price at Amazon
The myHummy range of white and pink noise machines is relatively unknown in the UK, but it’s getting great reviews online. The products sit at the more expensive end of the market, but with Bluetooth connectivity and sleep sensors, they’re well specified – and you can’t put a price on a good night’s rest.
Each myHummy is packed with firm stuffing, making them soft enough to play with without posing a suffocation risk. And inside there’s a removable Humming Heart, which takes three AAA batteries and can be removed for standalone use or to wash the outer teddy. The toys also have a velvet-style cover so they don’t slide about the bed easily.
My own family has the Filbert bear, which offers five types of white and pink noise, designed to sound like amniotic fluid mixed with a heartbeat, rainfall, sea waves, hairdryer or vacuum cleaner sounds. The audio gently fades away after an hour, but activates again if baby starts to stir – or you can enable a non-stop mode that keeps the sound playing for 12 hours. You can get a week’s worth of nights on 12-hour mode with one set of batteries, but they’ll obviously last longer if you don’t have the myHummy on all night.
The sound on the myHummy isn’t loud enough to drown out the baby’s cry, but it does help block out household sounds. And while the sound doesn’t settle my baby to sleep, it does provide a reassuring environment for him and has become a regular part of his bedtime routine. Its design means it can be stood up or laid down, and it’s lightweight enough to carry with you wherever you go.
2. Ewan the Sheep: The most popular white noise machine
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon
SweetDreamers’ Ewan the Sheep has won multiple awards and is among the bestselling white noise machines on Amazon. The standard version, costing an affordable £30, emits a soothing pink glow, designed to mimic the light a baby can see in the womb, and plays sounds that imitate those heard before birth. You can choose from a vacuum cleaner, rainfall, harp melody or recorded womb sounds, with a mother’s resting heartbeat in the background.
The downside is that it only plays for 20 minutes, which isn’t ideal if your baby takes a while to settle down. The Deluxe version, costing an additional £10, adds a “smartCRY” sensor that listens out for when the baby starts stirring and automatically switches the sound back on again.
We found that Ewan was quieter than other white noise machines, and it didn’t appear to make much of a difference to how settled my baby was. Indeed, when the smartCRY sensor kicked in and turned the sound back on, it disturbed my baby rather than soothing them. It’s a super-portable machine, though, and because it doesn’t stay on for hours at a time, the batteries last a decent while.
3. SnüzCloud: The best white noise machine for style
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at JoJo Maman Bébé
The SnüzCloud is stylish, portable baby white noise machine designed in the form of a soft plush cloud with closed eyes to inspire sleep. It features four soothing sounds – heartbeat, pink noise, lullaby and the sound of a waterfall – and two light options to help comfort and settle your little one to sleep. These lights can be switched between a calming pink glow or a soft white night light.
It’s not the cheapest white noise machine on this list, and the sounds and lights only play for 20-minute cycles, but it is one of the most stylish. It easily attaches to a crib, cot, pram or car seat with a Velcro strap and is suitable from birth.
4. Whisbear Humming Bear: The best white noise machine for motor development
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Amazon
A sort of cross between the myHummy and Ewan the Sheep, the Whisbear recreates the ambience of the womb by playing a gentle, hairdryer-like sound. It runs for 40 minutes, then gently fades out – but the Whisbear continues to listen to its surroundings, and as soon as it recognises a baby’s cry it switches back on automatically for an additional 20 minutes.
You can optionally skip the initial 40 minutes of shushing to put it straight into listening mode or use the “Soft Start” function, which gently switches the device on at a volume that’s either automatically adjusted or set by you.
What’s special about the Whisbear is that it’s not just a sleep aid. To encourage sensory and fine motor development, it features rustling elements in the ears and paws, and is made from different textures of fabrics in contrasting colours. This makes it perfect for your little one to play with before they drift off. Although it might also be a distraction to them in the middle of the night, so you can choose whether or not to put it in the cot with your baby!
Its paws contain magnets, making it easy to attach the Whisbear Humming Bear to a cot, Moses basket, buggy or changing bag. It’s suitable from birth and has a hypoallergenic filling.
5. Munchkin Shhh Sleep Machine: The best white noise machine on a budget
Price when reviewed: £19 | Check price at Amazon
Munchkin does some fantastic baby products – including spoons and bowls that change colour when the food is too hot – and its Shhh Sleep Machine is no exception.
It looks similar to a colourful smart speaker (we think it’s not too dissimilar to the Google Home) and plays three sounds: shushing, heartbeat and white noise.
A built-in, soft nightlight mimics the light of the womb and this light can either glow solid or pulse. A timer will also shut off the machine when it’s no longer needed. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as some of the white noise machines above but for £20, you can’t really complain.
6. MyBaby Soundspa White Noise Machine: The best white noise machine for adults and babies
Price when reviewed: £17 | Check price at Amazon
If the teddy-style designs of others in this list of best white noise machines aren’t to your taste, or you want the best white noise machine for yourself as well as your child, the MyBaby Soundspa is a good alternative. It comes with six sounds including heartbeat, white noise, “cradle”, ocean, brook and “summer night”.
Each is digitally created and designed to mimic a natural environment, so the sounds aren’t too harsh, even if you turn the volume right up. My baby responded best to the straight white noise, but we preferred to hear the summer night sounds playing into our room via the monitor. Like others in this list, it’s portable, but it will fit a little more snugly – and more discreetly – than the plush versions.
It doesn’t offer the 12-hour setting of the MyHummy but does feature more timer options than some of the others. You can set the SoundSpa to switch off after 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour. It’s powered by four AA batteries, and it’s easy to get through a fair few of these, but if you’re willing to pay a little extra for a separate AC adapter, you can run it off the mains and not have to worry about buying batteries or the battery running out in the middle of the night.
7. Dreamegg D11 Sound Machine: The best compact white noise machine
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Amazon
The Dreamegg D11 white noise machine is one to seriously consider – especially if you travel a lot and are looking for a compact option. The contemporary design is a nice alternative to the more cutesy versions available, and the rechargeable battery can be topped up with a standard USB cable.
It offers 11 different soothing sounds in total: six of which are for babies and include lullabies, and five that adults can enjoy too (if you enjoy being lulled off to sleep with white noise). There’s a wide range of volume levels (32 in total) and it’s surprisingly clear and powerful for its size. Don’t forget, however, that white noise machines shouldn’t be left on too loud or close to baby’s ears.
A calming night light sits within the face of the machine’s swirl design, offering just the right level of warm-toned illumination. Unlike the Whisbear, there’s no smart technology triggering the sound, but it does have a handy timer so you can make sure the noise shuts off after 30, 60 or 90 minutes. You can also clip it to the side of the cot or pram, safely out of reach of your baby.
8. SNOObear White Noise Lovey: The best white noise machine for toddlers
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at Happiest Baby
It’s not just babies that struggle to drift off at night; many toddlers need a little help from time to time too. Designed by Dr Harvey Karp, the SNOObear is a teddy and white noise machine rolled into one. It provides either 30 or 60 minutes of shushing (which you stop and start by squeezing the teddy’s tummy), three volume levels, and six soothing and shushing sounds including a rumbly train, soft shush and loud shush.
One of the SNOObear’s most clever features is that it automatically comes on if your child starts crying or there’s noise nearby. I found this to be very effective at helping my baby to resettle, especially during the day.
It can also be used for younger babies but must never be placed in a cot or pram for babies less than 12 months old, as this can put infants at greater risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). When used safely, though, this is a lovely option to have on hand – we’ve already become very fond of our SNOObear.